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Journalism pays homage to pioneers

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Nomvelo Chalumbira
October06/ 2017

History will continue to be made by the Wits Journalism department, as it honours various influential journalists and media outlets.

As part of Wits University’s transformation agenda the journalism department will be continuing and adding to representative naming of some of its boardrooms and walls to honour prominent figures and different media outlets.

The journalism department’s Adjunct Professor Mathatha Tsedu, who spearheaded the process to have the names adding new and previously un-named spaces of the department, said
the process took about a year before finally getting approved on September 29.

“The naming is part of the transformation agenda, changing the culture and spaces that are in the university. The naming process in the journalism department looks at what it is that we can change in our spaces we work in. [We have] already transformed some of the spaces such as the Drum room, Sol Plaatje’s wall and we continue with the process,” said Tsedu.

The naming in the journalism department will see three boardrooms named after influential journalists: Bessie Head, Percy Qoboza and Christina Scott. Two walls will be dedicated to Kabbo, a talented Khoisan storyteller from the 17th century and 1980s radio station, Capital 604.

Wits Vice-Principal and Chairperson of the Naming Committee Professor Tawana Kupe said the Naming Committee receives nominations from the university community which the committee discusses before making a recommendation to the university’s Council. The Council then decides on whether the recommendation should be accepted or not before getting final approval from senate.

Tsedu said although it was a long process to get to this point the department is hoping to have a ceremony to officially change the names in November where some of the relatives of those to be honoured in the name changes will be invited.

Students weighed in on the transformation debate and whether the renaming and name changes of buildings and departments at Wits really contributes to decolonisation and transformation of the university.

BA Honours in Sociology student Sithembiso Mdlalose said, “I don’t think it makes a difference if you have Robert Sobukwe Block, which is only a building but his ideas remain hidden. Changing names hasn’t brought any solutions or material benefits, it’s just window dressing.It addresses the symbols but it doesn’t deal with the structural issues of transformations, like how many black female lecturers are at the university or in the curriculum.”

Postgraduate LLB student Mcebo Freedom Dlamini disagreed with Mdlalose’s view. “I think the names have a significance and have an impact on us blacks being in this space but it shouldn’t end with the changing of names but a beginning. It speaks to inclusivity, that we [black students]

are included in the university and ownership. When I look at the buildings [on campus] there must be a sense of relationship that these are our ancestors. So if you change the names you’re saying Wits is no longer what it used to be,” he said.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Wits Vuvuzela, February 2017: Dismantling apartheid at Wits

Wits Vuvuzela, September 2017: Wits honours giant of anti-apartheid struggle

 

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Nomvelo Chalumbira